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Samsung Galaxy M20 first impressions: A worthy Xiaomi Redmi Note 6 Pro rival?

Samsung Galaxy M20 will go on sale in India on February 5 at a starting price of 10,990. Here are our first impressions of the latest Samsung smartphone.

Here’s everything you need to know about Samsung Galaxy M20
Here’s everything you need to know about Samsung Galaxy M20 (HT Photo)

Xiaomi has rapidly made inroads into the Indian smartphone market, especially the budget segment. OnePlus has a similar trajectory in the premium phone space. The year-long trend has forced Samsung to finally come up with more competitive devices. The latest Galaxy M-series plays a pivotal role in Samsung's ambitious return to the Indian budget phone market.

Marking a big departure from Galaxy On and Galaxy J phones, Samsung brings a number of its first features to Galaxy M. For instance, Galaxy M10 and Galaxy M20 come with Infinity-V notch displays. Galaxy M20 also comes with big 5,000mAh battery, first budget Samsung smartphone to feature such large battery.

How different Samsung Galaxy M phones are from the competition and previous budget Galaxy phones? Can Galaxy M beat Redmi Note 6 Pro and other popular Redmi phones? These are a few questions we try to address in our first impressions of Galaxy M20.

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Design: Different but better?

Samsung Galaxy M20 certainly looks very different from older Galaxy J and On phones the company used to offer for the budget segments. It looks trendier and smarter with peppy Blue colour and glossy finish on the back.

On the front it has an Infinity-V cut-out, which seems like a better version of waterdrop or dewdrop notches we see on other phones. The cut-out features the selfie camera on the front and mic etched into the top edge of the phone.

While the front is dominated by the display (over 90% screen-to-body ratio and 19:5:9 aspect ratio), Galaxy M20 has dual-rear camera setup and fingerprint sensor on the back with the company branding. Speaker grilles, headphone jack, and Type-C port are located at the bottom. Volume and power buttons are on the right edge.

There are a couple of things which we liked about Samsung Galaxy M20. First is the new colour model which is a pleasant refresh in Samsung's wide range of similar looking devices. Second is the bright full HD+ display which delivers near-excellent legibility indoors and outdoors.

Samsung Galaxy M20 comes with Infinity-V cutout display
Samsung Galaxy M20 comes with Infinity-V cutout display (HT Photo)

But it's not perfect. Galaxy M20 is quite thick and heavy as well. This is possibly because of the large 5,000mAh battery. The bulk reminds us of the Moto One Power, which also houses a 5,000mAh battery. It does take some time to get accustomed to the weight of the phone. The glossy finish on the back is quite prone to fingerprint smudges. Either you can keep wiping the phone back regularly or just have a cover on it. Hopefully, Samsung will release accessories around its new smartphones.

Samsung Galaxy M20 will be available in Ocean Blue and Charcoal Black colour options
Samsung Galaxy M20 will be available in Ocean Blue and Charcoal Black colour options (HT Photo)

User interface: Colourful, vivid

Samsung has introduced a brand new Samsung Experience v9.5 with its Galaxy M20. The new software, which is based on Android 8.1.0 Oreo, seems refined and lightweight. We faced no difficulties while navigating from one application to another. As expected from Samsung, it's quite colourful with redesigned app icons and lots of customisation over the stock Android.

As far as customisations go, it's quite depends on your preferences whether you like it or not. While the likes of Moto One Power and Nokia offer stock Android experience, Redmi Note 6 Pro have grown popular despite custom ROMs. Unlike other custom OSes around, you can trust Samsung's software to be a lot stable. Perhaps, Samsung can choose to reduce the number of pre-loaded application it bundles on its phones. Especially for budget phones like Galaxy M, it could have made an exception.

Camera: Wide-angle makes the difference

Samsung Galaxy M20 comes with two rear cameras featuring 13-megapixel sensor with f1/.9 aperture and a 5-megapixel 120-degree wide-angle sensor. The camera interface hasn't changed much from other Samsung phones. It offers a bunch of modes such as panorama, pro, beauty, live focus, auto, stickers and burst shot.

A closer look at Samsung Galaxy M20's dual-camera setup
A closer look at Samsung Galaxy M20's dual-camera setup (HT Photo)

The camera comes with a special toggle to shift between wide-angle and main camera - similar to what we've seen on the recently launched Galaxy A9 phone. The wide-angle lens, as the name suggests, lets you capture wider-real estate. The photos come out with a fish-eye-like effect though. Also, 5-megapixel sensor could have been much better. It's too early to give you our verdict on its camera performance. But it does look promising.

Summing up,

Samsung Galaxy M20 looks like a solid budget smartphone under 13,000. After a long time, a Samsung phone offers Xiaomi-like competitive specifications. With up to 4GB of RAM and in-house Exynos 7904 octa-core chip, Galaxy M20 can take on phones with Snapdragon 636 processors. Moreover, it looks much better than any of the budget phones Samsung has offered thus far. We will dive deeper into the performance and camera quality in our detailed review. Until then stay tuned.


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